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Ponder guides 49ers past Broncos

DENVER — Christian Ponder ran for a score and threw for another in the fourth quarter and San Francisco pulled away to beat the Denver Broncos 31-24 in an exhibition Saturday night.

Ponder was signed earlier in the week to bolster the team's depth at quarterback.

Blaine Gabbert, trying to solidify his hold on the starting quarterback job in Colin Kaepernick's absence, led a scoring drive and finished 6 of 9 for 69 yards in roughly a quarter and a half of play.

Kaepernick, who missed the first exhibition because of a sore right shoulder, resumed throwing in practice Thursday and is expected to begin fully participating in workouts next week in hopes of playing Friday against Green Bay.

Ponder, who was out of football last season, was added by the 49ers (1-1) after backup quarterback Thad Lewis suffered a season-ending knee injury in their exhibition opener against Houston last week. Ponder scored on a 22-yard bootleg and then completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dres Anderson.

The Broncos (1-1), also in search of a quarterback after the retirement of Peyton Manning and free agency departure of Brock Osweiler, did not get a decisive performance from their contenders.

PANTHERS 26, TITANS 16: At Nashville, Tenn., Cam Newton threw for 162 yards and led scoring drives on two of his four series for Carolina. Newton went 8 of 12 before leaving midway through the second period. He opened the game by leading a 93-yard drive that included Ted Ginn Jr.'s 61-yard touchdown reception.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota directed three series and went 9 of 10 for 104 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Mariota is 14 of 15 through two preseason games.

RAMS 21, CHIEFS 20: At Los Angeles, Todd Gurley rushed for a touchdown in his preseason debut for Los Angeles. Gurley, who was held out of exhibition games last season as a rookie while recovering from a torn ACL, rushed for 20 yards on four carries and scored on a 3-yard run.

Case Keenum started at quarterback and led the Rams (2-0) to two touchdowns, going 4 of 5 for 53 yards with an 11-yard scoring pass to Pharoh Cooper before giving way to rookie Jared Goff. He played the entire second half and finished 8 of 12 for 82 yards.

TEXANS 16, SAINTS 9: At Houston, Brock Osweiler threw a touchdown pass and led the starting offense to three first-half scores. New Orleans had a chance to send the game to overtime with an untimed down from the 12-yard line, but third-string quarterback Garrett Grayson threw an interception.

With four Texans starters on the offensive line out, Houston's running game struggled for most of the game to get past the Saints' tough front. Nick Fairley had an active game for New Orleans (0-2), keeping starting running back Lamar Miller in check for just 16 yards on six carries.

BUCS 27, JAGUARS 21: At Jacksonville, Fla., Blake Bortles threw two touchdowns passes in three drives and gave the Jacksonville an early lead before Tampa Bay rallied.

Second in the NFL last season with 35 TD passes, Bortles completed 8 of 11 passes for 85 yards, with no sacks and few mistakes. Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston was 3 of 10 for 28 yards, with an interception.

RAVENS 19, COLTS 18: At Indianapolis, in his first start since early November, Indianapolis' Andrew Luck completed all eight of his passes, led the Colts on two long drives and avoided taking any hits.

He opened the game by leading the Colts on a 61-yard drive that set up Adam Vinatieri for a short field goal. He had Indy in position to score again — until Dwayne Allen lost a fumble at the Baltimore 18-yard line. The final numbers: 8 of 8, 69 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks.

BILLS 21, GIANTS 0: At Orchard Park, N.Y., quarterback Tyrod Taylor zipped a 13-yard touchdown pass over the middle to LeSean McCoy to cap his fourth and final series, then backup EJ Manuel secured the win by leading two touchdown drives.

For New York, Eli Manning completed 4 of 9 passes for 44 yards in four series, in which New York combined for 33 yards of offense and one first down. Odell Beckham had one catch for 33 yards and was targeted three times.

Denver quarterback Mark Sanchez fumbles as he is hit by San Francisco's Tank Carradine, left, and Garrison Smith, right, Saturday. JACK DEMPSEY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS